Giants’ Saquon Barkley excited to face ‘probably the greatest defensive player of all time’ in Week 17

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) during the second half against the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will face off against the Los Angeles Rams on New Year’s Eve in their second to last game of the 2023 season. The 8-7 Rams, fighting for a spot in the playoffs, pose a considerable threat to the already-eliminated Giants.

The Rams possess a highly skilled defense that seems poised to thwart a struggling Giants offense in Week 17. Headlining Los Angeles’ defense is future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald.

Giants superstar running back is thrilled to face off against Donald, who he described as “probably the greatest defensive player of all time.”

Saquon Barkley is looking forward to his matchup with Aaron Donald

Barkley offered high praise for Donald, calling him “probably the greatest defensive player of all time,” outside of maybe only another New York Giants legend — Lawrence Taylor.

“Yeah, I’m excited for that one,” Barkley told reporters when asked about his matchup with Donald. “Probably shouldn’t say that, I don’t want to–they say don’t poke the bear. My mindset is – I really don’t – whoever we’re going up against, that doesn’t bother me, but knowing how great of a player he is, arguably, probably the greatest defensive player of all time, between him and probably (Pro Football and Giants Hall of Famer) Lawrence Taylor, it’s definitely going to be fun.”

Donald is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer as the Rams legend has had a historic career. He’s a three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year (2017, 2018, 2020), a Super Bowl champion (Super Bowl LVI), seven-time first-team All-Pro (2015-2021), and nine-time Pro Bowler (2014-2022).

Donald’s resume speaks for itself and the Giants will need to game plan for him if they want to survive on Sunday and earn their sixth win of the season.

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Can the Giants’ offense get past Donald?

The Giants’ offense averages just 14.3 points and 263.7 total yards per game. Barkley has 877 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns this season despite running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. But on Sunday, he will be rushing right into the center of a stellar Rams defensive line manned by Donald.

The Rams are allowing just 105.7 rushing yards per game this season. Donald has recorded 48 combine tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks, and 78 pressures this season. He is Pro Football Focus’s third-highest-graded interior defender this season with a 90.3 overall grade (Giants DL Dexter Lawrence ranks first).

Containing Donald will be no easy task for Big Blue’s interior offensive line. Rookie center John Michael Schmitz will have his hands full once again this week as he aims to provide some push against Donald and the Ram’s defensive line.